By Marianne Binnetti
Sedums and succulents are the perfect plants to use in unusual containers because they need very little soil, water, or fertilizer. I love the shiny, almost metallic sheen of succulent foliage, so this was my inspiration for finding suitable sedum planters.
My grandmother’s silver-plate tea set came out of the closet, where it had been ignored for years. All that time it had been working on its perfectly imperfect tarnished sheen. I love the contrast of the rustic tarnish with the refined shape of the tea set. In went the sedums and outside went the tea set. Now I enjoy this once-hidden family heirloom daily, and I am sure my garden-loving grandmother would have approved.
Note: If you don’t own a silver-plated tea set, you can pick one up at a very low price at any secondhand store or antique mall. The solid silver sets are expensive, not the common silver-plated version you see here.
Here’s how to plant this project:
Step one: Find small clay pots with rims that slip inside the pot and sugar and cream bowls. If you can’t find pots that are the perfect size to hang from the rim, add gravel or corks to the bottom of the receptacles. Tip: Clay pots are best for succulents and sedums because they drain quickly. I used pots rather than plant directly into the tea set because I did not want to make drainage holes in the silver set.
Step two: Fill the pots with a quick-draining potting soil made for cacti and succulents. Or make your own potting soil by adding one third perlite or sand to regular potting soil.
Step three: Poke a hole in the potting soil and insert the stem from a succulent. I used hen and chicks (Sempervivum) and a bit of golden sedum ‘Angelina’, but any slow-growing succulent can do. Tip: Take cuttings from any succulent by snipping off the top growth. Then allow the cut end to air-dry 24 hours so the stem forms a callous. Speed root formation by letting the cut end dry out before you replant.
I plan to display my sedum silver outdoors in my hydrangea room during the summer and then remove the pots of sedums and store the set indoors during the winter. The containers could fill with water after a heavy rain, but moving them inside, I won’t worry that the silver set has no drainage holes. You might want to display your beautifully tarnished silver on a covered patio, front porch, or even in a window box. Anywhere but hidden away in a closet!
Note: See how to create the rock and wire gabion side table here.